Day 1: Delhi – Amritsar After early morning pickup from your New Delhi hotel, transfer to the railway station to catch a train for Amritsar. During the approximate 6-hour ride, enjoy complimentary breakfast aboard the train. (It is recommended that you also bring snacks along to fortify your trip.) Upon arrival in Amritsar around 1:30pm, you’ll be met by a driver and transported to your accommodation, where you can rest and relax before your afternoon tour begins.
When your professional guide picks you up, settle into your comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle and enjoy complimentary bottled water during the drive to the Wagah border. Here, watch the lowering of the flags ceremony, which takes place each evening before sunset. Also referred to as the ‘Beating Retreat border ceremony on the international level,’ this daily military ritual has been practiced by both India and Pakistan – the Border Security Force and the Pakistan Rangers – since 1959.
Witness the brash parade of soldiers from both sides of the Wagah border, which once served as the only road linking the two countries. Watch as the infantrymen stand at attention and the border’s iron gates are opened as the two nations’ flags are lowered in perfect unison with the setting sun. The spectacle ends with the folding of flags, followed by a curt handshake between opposing soldiers and the closing of the gates.
Your guide will offer insight about the carefully choreographed ceremony before heading to the Golden Temple, considered the Sikhs’ spiritual and cultural center. Amritsar, meaning ‘pool of nectar,’ was founded in 1579 by Guru Ram Das – the fourth Guru of the Sikh religion. Learn about his son and the next Sikh guru, Arjun Dev, who built the famous and important shrine.
At the Golden Temple, set amid a pool of holy water, visitors and devotees from all faiths are welcome. You'll get a glimpse of the Sikh temple tradition of offering daily Guru-Ka-Langar – a free, community meal that began in the 16th century. As you watch the community kitchen feed up to 10,000 people, learn about this Sikh principle of equality and the practice of eating together. After your visit, your guide will return you to your hotel.
Overnight: Amritsar Country Inn and Suites in Amritsar
Day 2: Amritsar – Delhi (B)After breakfast at your hotel, embark on a sightseeing tour of the old city of Amritsar with your guide. Begin with a morning visit to Jallianwala Bagh, a public garden within the city and the site of a notorious massacre of Indians under British rule in 1919.
See the memorial that commemorates hundreds of pilgrims who gathered for a Punjabi New Year festival and were killed under the orders of General Dyer, the British lieutenant governor of the Punjab, who had banned all meetings and demonstrations in the province. Amid today’s pleasant park atmosphere, learn more about the tragedy of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre and the Indian freedom struggle that ensued.
Next, visit the beautiful Ram Bagh Gardens and the remains of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s summer palace – now a national museum. Hear from your guide how the former Raja of Punjab named the garden in honor of his devotion to Guru Ram Das. Admire the statue of the legendary Raja upon his horse and marvel at the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Panorama, a three-dimensional mural that depicts the important life events of the legendary Sikh king.
In the evening, your guide will transport you back to the railway station to board your train for Delhi. During the approximate 6-hour return, enjoy complimentary dinner aboard the train. Upon arrival, a driver will transfer you to your hotel or the airport.